I’m not sure when or how it happened, but David Lynch’s Mulholland Dr. somehow turned into a go-to critics’ selection for the best film of the 21st century. I’m not complaining — considering that it began as a failed TV pilot, its power is staggering — though I think it indulges in weirdness for weirdness’s sake a little too often. On the other hand, if that’s not your thing, you’ve come to the wrong direction, and its vision of Los Angeles as a surreal, occasionally nightmare-laden dreamscape is one of a kind. It opened today in 2001.
Ben Affleck never seemed satisfied with working in front of the camera, and he scored a winner with Argo, the true story of how the CIA ferried a group of Americans safely out of Revolutionary Iran by posing as a movie crew. It established Affleck as a director of note and his failure to garner an Academy Award nomination — quite the kerfuffle at the time — was mitigated by its seemingly unanimous choice for the Best Picture Oscar. It opened today in 2012.
Finally, I’ll mention Sinister, which opened the same day, and which certainly isn’t in the same league. But it remains a solid horror film, with a terrific twist and a protagonist (Ethan Hawke) who manages to both have it coming and engender our sympathies at the same time. If you need a horror movie this Halloween season, you could do a whole lot worse. It opened today in 2012.